An investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, has filed an application for judicial review at the Fast Track High Court, seeking a number of reliefs from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).
The action was filed on the grounds that the DVLA had breached its obligatory statutory duties, as well as engaged in illegal and inaction by neglect of its obligatory statutory duties.
The reliefs being sought include a declaration that the DVLA owes a duty to the general public and road users in particular to promote good driving standards by ensuring that only qualified and competent applicants are issued with driver’s licences.
It also seeks a declaration that the respondent has breached and continues to breach the duty it owes to the general public and road users in particular by failing to strictly enforce the provisions of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority Act, 1999 (Act 569) and the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (LI 2180) through its acts and by its illegal and wrongful neglect of its statutory obligatory duties by issuing driver’s licences to unqualified and incompetent applicants.
In addition, the applicant is seeking an order in the nature of mandamus to compel the respondent to perform its obligatory statutory duties by ensuring strict compliance with the law governing the licensing of drivers of motor vehicles.
In an affidavit accompanying the application, the applicant said in pursuance of its mandate, the respondent was required, by the Road Traffic Regulations, 2012 (LI 2180), to ensure that no person was issued with a driver’s licence except where the person had undergone a medical examination prescribed by the respondent, a theoretical and practical driving test, in-traffic test and an eye test.
The affidavit said the pre-conditions for the issuance of a driver’s licence were intended to establish the physical fitness of the applicant and ascertain his driving ability and competence in assuring the safety of road users.
It said those pre-conditions for the issuance of a driver’s licence were not optional and the respondent did not have any discretion about them, since it had been obliged by Act 569 to ensure strict compliance with the requirements.
According to the affidavit, the respondent had an implied obligation by law to prominently display the approved fees for the issuance of a driver’s licence in all its offices and those of its agents where licences were issued.
It said the applicant had uncovered, through investigative journalism work, that the respondent had breached and was continuing in its breach of the duty it owed to the general public and road users in particular by violating Act 569 and LI 2180 through its acts and the illegal and wrongful neglect of its statutory obligatory duties by issuing driver’s licences to unqualified and incompetent applicants.
According to the affidavit, investigations by the applicant established that officers of the respondent repeatedly and on a large scale issued driver’s licences to applicants without taking the applicants through the mandatory statutory procedures, as well as took huge sums of money from them by way of bribes to ensure an unlawful fast-track processing of licences.
It said the system of issuance and renewal of driver’s licences institutionalised by the respondent was so alarmingly lax that licences were issued to blind persons, physically disabled persons, persons of unsound mind, persons who could neither read nor understand road signs, and minors.
“By tacitly permitting its officers to unlawfully and illegally issue driver’s licences to unqualified and incompetent applicants, the respondent has violated and is violating the mandatory provisions of Act 569 and LI 2180 by failing to strictly enforce the law governing the issuance and renewal of driver’s licences,” the affidavit said.
It said the actions and omissions of the respondent were endangering the collective security of the public and road users and also defeating the purpose and object of Act 569 and LI 2180.
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